- [Player Ratings] Arsenal 2-0 Reading: The Ox & Gibbs Impress
- Video: Arsenal 2-0 Reading: Oxlade-Chamberlain double sinks Royals
- Teams: Arsenal v Reading: Jeff & Perez start
- [Video] Arsenal star out of Reading clash after sharing gym video
- Arsenal star surprisingly named in squad for Reading clash
- Preview: Arsenal v Reading, team news, 18yr old starts + prediction
- 4-2-3-1 v Reading: Perez & Jeff start – My Arsenal starting XI
- [Photos] Several youngsters join Ramsey & Giroud in Arsenal training
- Team News: Arsenal duo ruled out but star to return against Reading
- Arsenal boss confirms these 9 players will feature against Reading
Could the Ox shine for England at the World Cup?
As the countdown to the 2014 World Cup becomes ever shorter, each of the thirty-two participating countries will be finalising their squads with managers tasked with the responsibility of picking the best squad. Speculation and opinions are often rife across fans and media pundits who make their own predictions as to who should be included and left out of their country’s 23-man squad that will wear the national shirt with pride.
England will arrive in Brazil with considerably lowered expectation than in previous years, although they always possess the quality that could see Roy Hodgson’s team end a 48 year wait for a major trophy. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has capped an excellent season at Arsenal by being included in England’s World Cup squad as Hodgson has gone for youth ahead of experience in the hope that England play with freedom and express themselves without fear and trepidation. An injection of young, enthusiastic players like Oxlade-Chamberlain may return belief in the England national team and lead punters to back England to win the World Cup against all odds and expectations.
Over the years, England have always been strong in the midfield area, with some of the best players in Europe utilising their dynamism, work-rate and superb array of passing to transform the Three Lions into a formidable force. The main argument with England’s midfield area in recent times is whether Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard can play together in the same team; while both are excellent players in their own right, they have struggled to form any sort of understanding or cohesion. Their role as deep-lying midfielders this season for Liverpool and Chelsea respectively have reinvigorated both players, in particular Gerrard who has arguably enjoyed his finest season at Anfield and will be in the best form possible to captain England in Brazil.
A lack of pace has also become a growing concern, particularly with the absence of Theo Walcott who was sorely missed by Arsenal as our title hopes diminished without him. This is where Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain comes into the picture as the perfect inclusion in England’s World Cup squad. The young Gunner is blessed with electric pace and dribbling ability that has been prominent throughout the second half of the season, either out on the wing or through the centre which is where Arsene Wenger believes he can get the best out of the Ox . His chances of being called up for the World Cup were potentially dashed by a persistent groin injury, but it is a huge relief for Arsenal and England fans, and the player himself, that he is now fit to shine on the most prestigious stage in world football.
Roy Hodgson is blessed to have a number of talented young players to choose from, with the rapid progression of highly-rated players such as Ross Barkley, Luke Shaw and Raheem Sterling made their inclusion in the 2014 World Cup squad a no-brainer. Oxlade-Chamberlain can certainly be considered amongst the next generation of England players, alongside fellow Gunner Jack Wilshere, as he has the ability to not only shine in Brazil this summer, but also develop into one of the best midfielders in the country.
Being written off before a ball has even been kicked in Brazil summarises the pessimism felt by sections of fans and pundits who believe England will find it difficult to qualify from a tough group where questions will be asked. While they are 8/13 to progress to the second round and 2/1 to win Group D, bookmakers have England as third favourites in both markets behind Italy and Uruguay. Although the odds reflect that England should have the quality within their squad to progress, particularly with the likes of Oxlade-Chamberlain, Barkley, Sterling and Adam Lallana adding a much-needed injection of flair, pace and quality into the side, they may not have enough to compete against Italy and Uruguay. Football punters can understandably get huge odds on Oxlade-Chamberlain to finish Brazil 2014 as top scorer as he’s yet to really add goals to his game, but I can certainly see the confident youngster causing some serious problems for any defence at the World Cup this summer.